Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Kite Runner

Khalid Abdalla ... Amir
Atossa Leoni ... Soraya
Shaun Toub ... Rahim Khan
Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada ... Omar
Zekeria Ebrahimi ... Young Amir
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada ... Young Hassan
Mir Mahmood Shah Hashimi ... Business Man in Baba's Study
Homayoun Ershadi ... Baba
Nabi Tanha ... Ali
Elham Ehsas ... Young Assef
Bahram Ehsas ... Wali
Tamim Nawabi ... Kamal
Mohamad Nabi Attai ... Uncle Saifo the Kite Seller
Mohamad Nadir Sarwari ... Spice Merchant
Mustafa Haidari ... Party Worker
Ahmad Yasar Shir Agha ... Birthday Singer
Mohammad Aman Joya ... Mahmood
Abdul Azim Wahabzada ... Karim
Vsevolod Sevanchos ... Soviet Union Soldier
Sayed Miran Farhad ... Burly Man in Truck
Murina Abudukelimu ... Young Wife in Truck
Igor Radchenko ... Soviet Union Officer
Larry Brown ... Gas Station Customer
L. Peter Callender ... Dean of Students
Jesse Robertson ... Man at Bar
Josh Chamberlain ... Pool Player
Marco Mazariegos ... Pool Player
Shaan Price ... Pool Player
Abdul Qadir Farookh ... General Taheri (as Qadir Farookh)
Peg McKibbin ... Flea Market Customer
Chris Verrill ... Dr. Starobin
Amar Kureishi ... Dr. Amani
Maimoona Ghizal ... Jamila Taheri
Ehsan Aman ... Wedding Singer (as Mohammad Ehsan Aman)
Yunus Osman ... Cemetery Mullah
Mehboob Ali ... Pakistan Taxi Driver
Saïd Taghmaoui ... Farid
Nasser Memarzia ... Zaman the Orphanage Director
Abdul Salam Yusoufzai ... Assef
Mohamad Amin Rahimi ... Taliban Stadium Speaker
Aziz Raxidi ... Assef Guard
Khalil Ahmad Nooryan ... Assef Guard
Ali Danish Bakhtyari ... Sohrab
Hameeda Hamraz ... Rahim Khan's Neighbor
Kaiser Doulat-Beek ... Man at Mosque
Ahmad Shah Alam ... Man in the Park
Khaled Hosseini ... Doctor in the Park
Habib Zargi ... Park Kite Seller
Houshmand Habib ... Kite Flyer Kid
Lukas Ferreira ... Kite Spooler Kid

Monsoon is here finally

Today was the first shower

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Hangover

The Hangover is a movie about the wildest Bachelor Party one could imagine. Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) is getting married to Tracy Garner (Sasha Barrese) in two days and his best friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) & Stu Price (Ed Helms) along with his ‘not all up there’ brother-in-law Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) head out to Las Vegas for a night that they’d remember for the rest of their lives.

Their adventurous Bachelor party ends in a them losing Doug and their hunt to find him and recollect the events of the night before which brings them in touch with a whole lot of mad characters like Mike Tyson and his Tiger, a crazed out Chinese dude Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) and his henchmen, a stripper/escort Jade (Heather Graham) and her baby, a black drug dealer Doug (Mike Epps) and a couple of Cops.

The movie will have you laughing off your seats and is a must watch. Oh and do stay till the credits because that is probably the most hilarious part of the movie.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Multiplex Movies are back: New York

New York is a movie that revolves around the whole 9/11 incident and how it affects the lives of the protagonists in the film. Starring Neil Nitin Mukesh, John Abraham, Katrina Kaif & Irrfan, the movie delves into a soul searching question about the cause and effects of the 9/11 incident. How deceit and betrayal lead to terrorism and it questions the atrocities of the FBI. Though it makes you sympathise with the people who have suffered, it also talks about the vicious circle of violence. The acting of John & Kat might be a bit weak, but the on-screen chemistry and the witty dialogues between Neil Nitin and Irrfan are fun. The film making is getting to be very much like a Hollywood production, right down to the narrative, but a bit of a dramatic ending bring that Bollywood drama to the script.

All that said, its still a decent film to go an watch.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rain Gods are playing Truant

The Clouds puffed up, then god Dark and then just blew over. No rain drops for miles. So were still waiting for the Monsoons and I watch another day go by as the sun sets without any relief from the Rain Gods.

I guess Cyclone Aila blew the Rain Clouds away.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Five Little Indians @ Tollygunge Club

I managed to catch Five Little Indians in concert at The Tollygunge Club on Saturday evening. The band popularly called “FLI” was formed in January 2007 with former members of some well-known “Kolkata” based bands both English and Bengali.

FLI, though it has been around for a while has of late made in roads into the Kolkata music scene with its original English music peppered with Hindustani Classical vocals. The band is all about English Original music which sets it apart from most Kolkata English bands that survive on doing covers.

As an original music band, FLI might not have many takers in the English music scene who have been fed covers, but their growing following and recent gigs are creating an audience that has been starved for this kind of music.


Neel Adhikari - vocals, guitars
Allan Ao – guitars
Arka Das - drums and percussion
Sayak Bandyopadhyay - vocals
Sanket Bhattacharya – bass

You can also listen to some of their music on their webpage:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Car Parking cum Street Market

After our visit to the Museum we headed back to our car and decided to pack some Pizza’s from Domino’s Pizza at New Empire. The tiny eatery was packed and we decided to take away. So while we waited for our order, we decided to have some Nimbu Paani by the road side just outside. While we were there, I noticed how the market place on the opposite side of the road was growing at a rapid pace. The cars parked there were slowly getting covered with merchandise and the shop owners calling out to the public passing by to check out their wares. It was truly amazing how this market place operated.

When we finally got our Pizza’s and headed back to the car, we were just in time. Our car would have been the next in line to become part of this shopping showcase. So we got in, paid the parking guy and pulled out of there.

As we were pulling out of New Market, we were right behind a Kolkata Police Wrecker that was carrying several Motorcycles out of the parking lot. I guess bikes don’t make good platforms for displaying products.

Visit to The Indian Museum

I confront most people who say “there’s nothing to do in this city” with “what have you seen in this glorious city”. And this doesn’t really hold true for Kolkata per-se. Each city holds its own unique flavour and treasure trove to discover. It requires one’s inquisitiveness to discover the city one lives in. To this end, I made a visit to the Indian Museum on Chowringee on Saturday.

The last time and that was the first time I had visited this great Museum was on a vacation to Kolkata at the insistence of my college buddies from Delhi. We had made a trip to Darjeeling (also my first time there) in 1995 and also stayed in Kolkata for several days. That was the first time I had actually been to places as a tourist and among the first time visits, apart from the Museum was the Birla Planetarium.

Anyway, the reason for this visit was “The Mummy”. I had told my wife about this Egyptian Mummy that was on display at the Indian Museum and had wanted to show her the same for a while now. So off we went in the sweltering Kolkata afternoon to visit the Indian Museum. We managed to get parking in the New Empire Lane just beside New Market and then walked to the Museum.

A Rs.10 entry per head + Rs. 50 for the Camera and off we went from room to room discovering History right down the ages. When I mean down the ages, it’s literally from Mammoth to Mummy and more. It was a fun hour or so in there, our main agenda being the Mummy. Of course one could spend hours in there if one has interest in archaeology and history, but just as a lay visitor some of the relics are quite bewildering.

So if you’re ever about to say, “there’s nothing to do in this city”, make a visit to the Indian Museum.
The Indian Museum
The Indian Museum is the largest and oldest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. The founder curator was Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist.

It has six sections comprising thirty five galleries of cultural and scientific artifacts namely Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. Many rare and unique specimens, both Indian and trans-Indian, relating to humanities and natural sciences, are preserved and displayed in the galleries of these sections. the administrative control of the Cultural sections, viz. Art, Archaeology and Anthropology rests with the Board of Trustees under its Directorate, and that of the three other science sections is with the geological survey of India, the zoological survey of India and the Botanical survey of India. The museum Directorate has eight co-ordinating service units: Education, Preservation, publication, presentation, photography, medical, modelling and library. This multipurpose Institution with multidisciplinary activities is being included as an Institute of national importance in the seventh schedule of the Constitution of India. It is one of oldest museums in the world. This is an autonomous organization under Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The present Director of the Indian Museum is B. Venugopal. The museum was closed to visitors due to massive restoration and upgrades from 1 September 2013 to 3 February 2014.

It currently (2009) occupies a resplendent mansion, and exhibits among others: an Egyptian mummy, The organs are taken out of the mummy's body through nostrils, except heart. The heart is placed in special chambers. The body was then massaged with salt and oil. The covering was done by thin cotton cloth[13]the Buddhist stupa from Bharhut, the Buddha's ashes, the Ashoka pillar, whose four-lion symbol became the official emblem of the Republic of India, fossil skeletons of prehistoric animals, an art collection, rare antiques, and a collection of meteorites. The Indian Museum is also regarded as "the beginning of a significant epoch initiating the socio-cultural and scientific achievements of the country. It is otherwise considered as the beginning of the modernity and the end of medieval era" by UZER Places.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Another Conspiracy Theory Movie: The International

The International is another conspiracy theory flick where Interpol Agent Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) teams up with Manhattan Assistant District Attorney (Naomi Watts) trying to expose a high profile International Financial Institution that is funding terrorists and is determined to bring to justice one of the most powerful banks in the world. Their investigation takes them all over the western world to places like Berlin, New York, Milan and Istanbul. In this high stakes chase, murder is just a by product and as the plot unravels, no one is safe and since entire governments are involved, no one can stop the business though a lot of heads do roll. An action packed high voltage action thriller that’ll keep you gripped till the end.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Road Trip to Ranchi: Day 3

It was time to head back on the road out of this mad city where every biker thinks he’s “Dhoni” and I as usual left my packing for the morning. Fortunately we got up in time and were out of Ranchi by 9am after a pit stop for petrol and air for the tyres. It’s imperative that one should have a full tank and the tyres properly inflated.

We had wanted to visit at least one of the much talked about water falls and the only one that seemed feasible was Dasham Falls which was about 10kms off the highway. So after about an hour of driving, we came to the right turn off towards Dasham Falls. This was a narrow road into rustic Jharkhand and reminded me a lot of the last stretch of road to Mandarmani. Fortunately the road signs on this winding road through rustic villages and hills were fabulous. It was pure bliss driving through complete wilderness. Even the few settlements we passed were archaic with no sign of modern civilisation having intruded on their way of life.

We finally came upon a clearing in the forest with a small building and parked the car there and then walked towards the Balcony which was visible. And as we came to the edge we saw the rock face of the waterfall before us with a plunge pool way below. As we looked all around, we noticed a stairway leading down to the falls and made our way to the stream below. The next half hour or so we spent there was just too good, soaking our feet in the stream and lapping up the beautiful surroundings. I was tempted to go and take a dip in the water too, but remembered the long drive ahead of us, refrained and only stuck to the feet and clicking pictures of the waterfall.

After that we decided to head back to our journey to Kolkata. I have to thank my luck as I managed to catch these two Chameleons fighting on the way back from Dahsham Falls in Jharkhand in the middle of a hilly road. I was captivated by them for a couple of minutes as they engaged in what seemed to be a territorial fight and managed to capture some of these pictures with my Canon Powershot A530. I wish I had a better camera and could have managed to keep a distance and see it going on and on. I moved with 5-6 feet of them and finally they got aware of my presence and ran off into the jungle. I chased but they finally split and took off into the undergrowth. Hope you like the pictures. Not that the creatures are a likeable lot, but I had the luck of witnessing this in the wild.

Soon after we took a wrong turn and headed further into the hills and wilderness and only when we came upon this long bridge across this river and started driving up a steep road that I realised we had gone off track. So we backtracked and finally came back to the t-point where we had made the wrong turn and got back to the highway. From there on it was quite an uneventful drive back. My wife went trigger happy, being totally fascinated by the palm trees and white puffy clouds in the sky and clicking away just short of Ghatshila. We stopped at a dhaba at Ghatshila for lunch and then carried on towards Kolkata.

After Ghatshila we got held up on a hilly stretch where the train tracks run through the valley right alongside the road. While we got held up in the traffic jam, which surprisingly was quite odd, I saw a long goods train pass bye. It’s always fun to witness stuff like this while you’re on a road trip; the country side, the trains, the people, the change in the vegetation, et al. Anyway it had been a while and so I got off and decided to go investigate the cause of the hold-up. So a short walk down the road lined with vehicles brought me upon the cause. A dumper truck had gone over the side of the hill and the crane that had been commissioned to pull it up was tilting precariously on one set of its back wheels, thus blocking the highway. A lone policeman was trying very hard to control the growing tension being caused by the now irritated highway users. He finally gave in and threw his hands up in the air and as requested by the people let them pass under the crane. I ran back to my car which was about 6-7 vehicles away from the scene. I got in and started towards the crane as the traffic from our side was being allowed through. Well only the small vehicles could pass under and as I came upon the scene, I stopped waited till the car in front had gone through, prayed and then stepped on the accelerator and drove through. It was a death defying move, but I guess sometimes you got to do what you got to do. We cleared the waiting to happen disaster and never looked back.

Thereafter, breezed through Jamshedpur and soon were negotiating those dreadful roads with gigantic potholes at the Jharkhand Border. I forgot to mention that as soon as you enter Jharkhand, the roads deteriorate considerably for several kilometres. Potholes that can swallow entire cars plague this stretch. Once we got past this stretch, it was not long before we hit Kharagpur and back to the old familiar 6 lane highway all the way back to Kolkata.

Road Trip to Ranchi: Day 2

Since we had spent a day driving to Ranchi, it would be a pity not to do some sight seeing. So we did exactly that. Only that our day started a bit later than anticipated. Anyway the first destination on our agenda was the celebrated “Rock Garden”. Nearly everyone we spoke with at the wedding and even at the hotel reception suggested it. So Rock garden it was. We drove across town asking for directions and finally got there.

But one of the incidents on the way was hilarious. I stopped at a busy intersection and as had been the practice so far, asked a Policeman for directions to Rock Garden, which he quite helpfully did give. Then as he walked back to where he was standing to direct traffic, he looked at the number plate. Then took a second look and then signalled to me to pull over to the side. I didn’t quite react and he signalled again. That’s when I knew we were in some sort of trouble. Sure enough as I pulled up to the side, he pointed out to me that I had dark film on my windows. So I asked him what the problem was with that. So he told me it wasn’t allowed. So I told him my car didn’t belong to the state and I was just here for a day? He told me it didn’t matter, and that I’d have to pay a fine. I told him I was just here for a day and what he was saying didn’t make sense. So then he tried to draw out his trump card and told me that even ‘Dhoni’ had been fined for having tinted glasses. I told him I didn’t care.

So then he asked me for my car papers and as I showed him my Registration, I told him I was going to make a call to sort this matter out. I realised I needed to stall him as I knew for a fact that my car insurance papers we back in my bag and that I didn’t have a Pollution Under Control Certificate as I hadn’t got that done in a while. Ok sue me for being a bad citizen, but at this point, I was going to get robbed in Ranchi. Yes Robbed by Cops. I wasn’t going to let that happen. So I just carried on with the phone trying to connect to my lawyer friend. He was quite connected in Ranchi, having one of the local MLA’s and the DIG of Police dancing along with his Baraat.

So while all this transpired and the Policeman went back to his officer, I was trying desperately to call my friend. Then he called me and said that his ‘Saheb” wanted to talk. Ha! I was getting the upper hand. So I got out of the car and went to meet the ‘Saheb’ (Officer). So he also told me the same story of how the fine was Rs. 1800/- and all and they had just pulled up another biker and were trying to extort money from him too. I told him I didn’t care and that I was just passing through and the rule was absurd. Seeing that I wouldn’t budge, he told me that I’d face this problem at the next intersection by the cops there. So I told him, I’d handle that. So having no choice, he let me go.

I got in the car, both my wife and I had a good laugh and took off. The rest of the drive was uneventful, save the fact that my wife spotted a Hot Chips shop and asked me to pull over. Yeah a south Indian Hot Chips shop in Ranchi! What are the chances of finding one? We don’t have any in Kolkata, or at least haven’t found one till date. So she bought a load of stuff from there. And then we finally came upon Rock Garden.

We drove up the little slope and then went into this tourist attraction atop a hill alongside the Kanke Dam. It was really nice and one could easily spend a romantic afternoon or evening here. And that’s what we saw, dozens of couples finding themselves a cosy spot here and there among the rocks.

After that, having nothing else to do, we decided to stop at the first place we saw for Lunch. Momo Corner it was and after we tried one plate of moms, decided to search for something more appealing. So we ended up going to Café Coffee Day at this fancy building called Capitol Hill. From here we went back to the Hotel, parked our car and decided to do something that I had told myself I would do, since I wasn’t being able to in Kolkata. And believe it or not! I bought a measuring tape from Shree Balaji Hardware Store Opposite Big Bazaar in Ranchi. After which we crossed the road and did some lukkhagiri in Big Bazaar. We even bought some stuff from here. Unbelievable!

After Big Bazaar, we enquired about buying ice right outside at the chuski wala (Ice Stick) and to our surprise or delight, I’m not sure one or both, there was an ice factory right opposite our hotel. So I decided to take care of another thing I had wanted to do and got on a cycle-rickshaw and got to the Ice Factory from where we bought a block of Ice. In my zest I had bought a huge block as I realised when we got to the car. But no worries, I took out my Swiss Knife (nakli one) and used the knife to break the ice. Finally put it in the Ice-Case, laid the beers (we had lost one to the potholes on our drive through Jharkhand) on the ice and headed to our room.

I came down later and picked up several and we had beer and ordered Chinese food in our room. We had to get up early the next morning to head back to Kolkata along with doing some sightseeing on the way.